Windmill’s Mentorship Program is a Lifeline for Newcomers

Published February 17, 2023.

Yusef moved to Canada with years of experience in the project-management sector. His struggle to find work, due to a lack of Canadian work experience, was an unexpected barrier in his job search. 


Fortunately, a friend of Yusef had moved to Canada around the same time and mentioned Windmill Microlending to him. Yusef got in touch with us and was eligible for an affordable loan. As a Windmill client, Yusef benefited from the Windmill Mentorship Program. This program pairs mentees with experienced mentors in the same field. 


Yusef was paired with Julianna, a projects director at Intact. After an introductory meeting, they agreed to meet online once a month to discuss topics that came up for Yusef during his job search. The lack of Canadian experience was a constant challenge that Yusef faced, and it frustrated him since it was entirely out of his control.


"It's just about breaking through that barrier," Yusef says. "How do you get Canadian experience when Canadian employers do not even want to hire you?


Part of Julianna's role is hiring project managers, and she was surprised at how challenging it was for Yusef to secure a position aligned with his skills and experience. A lack of Canadian work experience would never deter her from hiring someone with Yusef's expertise.  


"I would care more that somebody has managed different types of projects rather than where they managed themA wider conversation needs to be had about why the Canadian experience is so important." Julianna states.


Julianna introduced Yusef to a former mentee in the same field who once struggled to find work for the same reason. This connection made Yusef more confident and helped him realize that persistence is critical to overcoming this barrier. 


Julianna strongly encourages newcomers to network during their job search. She and Yusef discussed networking techniques. Yusef knew he had a lot to offer an employer and realized that broadening his network would make a big difference. 


Yusef changed his strategy on LinkedIn, in particular. He was competing with over 300 applicants in various project-management roles that he applied for. Before sending over his resume, he decided to try Julianna's suggestion of reaching out to people on LinkedIn first to create a more personal connection.


This strategy worked wonders for him. 


"Go the extra mile," Yusef says. "Don't do the same thing as everyone else."


After speaking with other newcomers, Yusef was surprised to learn that many of them complete bridging programs to get a Canadian credential. For Yusef, giving 6-12 months to this type of program is a big ask and takes time away from applying for suitable roles. He feels that internationally-trained professionals have education and experience that need to be valued more by Canadian employers.


Applying for roles is time-consuming and can be disheartening. It can be challenging, at times, not to take a rejection personally. Julianna advises newcomers in this position to get a mentor or surround themselves with a supportive community. "Don't let yourself be discouraged," she suggests.


Julianna has completely changed Yusef's mindset regarding his job search, and he believes every newcomer should benefit from this kind of support. Having a supportive mentor has made an incredible difference to Yusef. "Don't go through this process without a mentor. It can be lonely."


Yusef recently made it to the second and third stages of an interview before receiving a job offer for a finance role. This opportunity may be outside the project management sector, but it does allow him to work for a Canadian employer. "At the end of the day, experience also counts," he states.


Julianna and Yusef feel that the Windmill Mentorship Program is a lifeline for newcomers to Canada. They look forward to their monthly meetings, where they can discuss Yusef's progress, problem-solve and look at issues from various perspectives. 


For Julianna, every mentee opens her eyes to challenges in the job market that she didn't consider before. "Most people think that only the mentee benefits from mentorship, but it's not true! I do a lot of work as a mentor because I've been fortunate in my opportunities and want to help others facing challenges I never had to."


Learn more about the Windmill Mentorship Program here.


For more information about how to become a mentor or mentee, email

Categorized in: Windmill Mentorship Program, Mentorship, A Newcomer's Journey, Settlement and Life in Canada,